By Lydia Crawley
The Parsons Advocate
Tucker County EMS Director Amanda Simmons and Tucker County Ambulance Authority President Dennis Filler met with State Senator Randy Smith (R) District 14, at Blackwater Falls State Park in regards to bill WV SB 737. According to Simmons, Tucker County EMS will receive $125,000 from the bill. “Tucker County Ambulance Authority will receive $125,000 for salary enhancement under this bill,” Simmons said.
According to Simmons, the bill was established to fund salary enhancements of her employees. Simmons said that she and Filler met with the Senator to discuss the intent of the bill, as well as how the money was intended to be used. “This is a bill that the state of WV legislators are trying to establish additional predictable funding to help ensure that the Paramedics, EMTs and Drivers have salaries that are competitive within the general labor market,” Simmons said.
Simmons said that the money will help fill a pay gap that Tucker County employees face when compared to other agencies in the area. “The providers in Tucker are paid $10.25 to 14.00 an hour with Paramedics at $19.00. We are a small facility that is competing with other places that can pay upwards of $30.00 to 40.00 per hour,” Simmons said.
Simmons said many of her employees have one or two other jobs due to the low pay that Tucker County offers. This fact, however, could affect some employee’s eligibility for the funds, Simmons said. Under the current state guidelines, a part time employee cannot receive funding if they are receiving the funding from any other entity in the West Virginia medical system, according to Simmons. “Most of our providers have one to two other jobs due to their pay being so low,” Simmons said. “Under present state guidance, Tucker County Ambulance Authority is at this time unable to pay more to our part time employees using these funds, if they work and receive any of these funds elsewhere in the WV medical system.”
According to Simmons, the funds are only approved for the current year and the future of additional funding is uncertain. “At this time it is only funded for this fiscal year 2023-2024 and future year funding is not guaranteed,” Simmons said.
Both Simmons and Filler said they thanked Smith for his sponsorship of the bill and said that the funds will assist in providing a more competitive wage to EMS employees. “The funds granted to us through SB 737 will help with improving pay that is very deserving of our EMS providers in the coming year,” Simmons said.
An excerpt from the introduction of the bill outlines the intent from the State, “There is hereby created in the State Treasury a special revenue fund designated and known as the Emergency Medical Services Salary Enhancement Fund which is an interest-and earnings-accumulating account. The fund is established to support supplementing the salaries of, and providing crisis response for, county emergency medical service personnel as that term is defined in §16-4C-3(g) of this code or a county designated or contracted emergency medical service provider and all moneys must be spent to support increasing salaries of emergency medical service workers and providing crisis response to encourage retention.”
Simmons said that her agency supports all the State’s efforts to address EMS issues and pay shortfalls. “We actively support any and all initiatives to support the future funding of this bill and continue to ask for the state’s and county’s assistance in providing this critical public service. We look forward to future state rule making sessions regarding this bill especially regarding clarification as to how these funds may be used locally to help resolve our staffing shortfalls,” Simmons said.